A Message From the Dean - February 2021

Daffodils are breaking through the soil for spring around the Old Davis Road UC Davis sign on February 16, 2021.
Daffodils are breaking through the soil for spring around the Old Davis Road UC Davis sign on February 16, 2021.

Last year, the CA&ES Dean’s Office established the 2020 Academic and Strategic Planning (ASP) committee to review and update the 2015 Academic and Strategic Plan at the request of campus leadership. For the past five years, our college strategic plan has served as the foundational guide for how we continue to uphold our land grant mission to serve the public through research, academics and public service. 2020 marked the five-year anniversary of the initial plan, and we were due for an update.

In response to the request by the campus, the Dean’s Office charged a small committee representing various college departments and areas of focus to assess the 2015 strategic plan. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the committee continued to meet virtually to ensure that the core elements of the 2015 plan remained relevant and aligned with the Campus Strategic Plan, refresh any elements that needed updating, communicate with faculty and departments to solicit input, and ensure that the 2020 strategic plan was highly inclusive of student needs in a rapidly changing global society.

The four priority themes developed in the 2015 plan provided a framework for future goals and programmatic development, and have guided many of our activities over the past five years, including departmental position requests and conversations with donors. The priority themes include:

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Equitable, Healthy Communities
  • Ecosystem Viability and Functionality
  • Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change

These priorities still remain relevant to our overarching mission to promote agricultural, environmental and social sustainability through research, teaching and public engagement to meet the challenges of global change in the 21st century.

We envision the current 2020 Academic and Strategic Plan will position the college to continue building upon these efforts. In addition to the four priorities, the 2020 plan includes three conceptual goals to help guide our work over the next five years:

  1. Provide high quality, supportive and diverse learning environments and educational opportunities to promote student success and well-being to meet the challenges of a changing world.
  2. Enable excellence, innovation and meaningful impact as a global leader in agricultural, environmental and societal research that promotes healthy and sustainable food, ecosystems and communities.
  3. Extend the influence of our research activities beyond the boundaries of the university in support of sustainable agricultural, environmental and human advancement.

The strategic plan has played a critical role in guiding our work these past five years, including the decisions we’ve made to recruit and hire faculty, expand experiential learning opportunities for students even in the face of budget constraints, and develop new and creative programs that expand our undergraduate curriculum.

I want to express my deep appreciation to the committee for staying on task and moving this effort forward, especially during last spring at a time of extreme challenge and unknown due to the pandemic. And I want to thank the departments and faculty who provided us with thoughtful feedback and insights on how to improve upon our 2015 plan. So much of what we do is driven by the work happening on the ground and in the fields. We will continue to listen to you all and the needs of our communities, students, stakeholders and those who benefit directly by our research, service and academic excellence. We look forward to working with the Faculty Executive Committee to charge an implementation committee and to hear from faculty, staff and students for recommendations on how we can put the 2020 plan into action. 

Please visit our website to view the 2020 Strategic Plan in its entirety. The appendices include departmental feedback, the original charge letter, the processes followed by the committee, and a report outlining the college accomplishments and faculty hires from the past five years that were guided by the 2015 strategic plan.